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Red Hook Group Bridges Digital Gap Left By Storm

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TWC News: Red Hook Group Bridges Digital Gap Left By Storm
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Not only are homes and businesses being rebuilt in Red Hook after Sandy, so is the neighborhood's wireless network. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.

With instructions in hand, a team of Red Hook residents recently installed a rooftop router. They call themselves "Digital Stewards" and they're helping to build a wireless network throughout the neighborhood.

About six young adults are part of the job program funded by the city. They're led by local resident Anthony Schloss who works for Red Hook Initiative, a non-profit community group.

Schloss says there's a digital divide in the neighborhood.

"If you look at a map, the Red Hook Houses have a 40 to 50 percent adoption of broad band and then as you go out from the houses and into the neighborhood it gets more and more," he said.

The so-called digital stewards are doing the research, the community outreach and the manual labor to help bridge that gap.

"This connection would be great because it allows for people to look for online resources such as housing, legal aid, education," said Tiwan Burrus, a Red Hook resident.

The need for such a network was stressed after Hurricane Sandy knocked out much of the neighborhood.

"The hurricane hit and information it was really hard to get good information so where the supply distribution points are or where the hot meals were being served. By expanding that network we're really able to get that info to the community," Schloss said.

"In response to Hurricane Sandy, the Center for Economic Opportunity expanded many of its subsidized job programs within storm affected communities. So this is one of the programs we've been able to expand in the past few months," said Kristin Morse of the New York City Center for Economic Opportunity.

The group meets three times a week. And not only are they building infrastructure but they're also creating applications to respond to community needs like a bus time app for Red Hook commuters.

"Me helping the community is a good feeling," Burrus said.

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